The Host Co.
Founded in September 2020, the Host Co. enables hosts
to create an online store to sell anything in their property, from snacks to
phone chargers to artwork.
Guests can make purchases before or during their
stay. Some items are stocked in the properties and others are delivered, with
the Host Co. making a commission on each sale.
What is your 30-second pitch to
We add the mini-bar, gift shop
and concierge to your Airbnb. As a guest you can now buy anything in
a rental from the snacks in the fridge to the art on the walls -
and even pre-order items before your arrival.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
We help hosts create custom
stores to sell anything in their rental, plus services like “pre-stock my
pantry” and connections to local artisan products that ship home. Our B2B2C marketplace software
- Safe: cashless transactions,
security features on both sides
- Secure: four layers of theft
prevention built in
- Seamless: Guests can purchase
an item in 30 seconds, with no downloads. Hosts onboard in two
My co-founder and I, who met as producers
at HGTV, are both professional Airbnb hosts. So we first built
this technology for ourselves. We understand both sides of the marketplace
- we know that guests really, really want to buy things our of our rentals. And
that, as hosts, we would like to curate a value-add experience for guests
and make more from every booking. And really, who doesn’t want pre-stocked
Advil and Gatorade for sale the night after a big wedding?
The Host Co. is a community of 10,000 hosts across all of our channels. We are basically the
Xerox of hosting, as one of the largest companies providing resources advice
and technology for short-term rental hosts. Our services work
for all short-term rental platforms, from Airbnb to Vrbo and
even different types of rentals like swimming pools and office
We built both our business model
and technology around our users - hosts! We know that hosts won’t download
anything, that they won’t work on a SaaS model because they are generally
seasonal and that they want to be in control of what they stock and
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of
- Strengths: Built for perfect
product market fit. Tons of early buzz, a robust waiting list and amazing
metrics from early users. Over 40% of guests purchase an item when they
stay in an Airbnb with a Host Co. store. And over 90% of guests open the
- Weaknesses: We
have so many amazing features to add, and as a growing company we are
figuring out how to get to them faster.
- Opportunities: global
- Threats: You’d think that Airbnb would be
our biggest threat here, but we know that Airbnb is not currently focused on
adding retail to rentals inside the company. We do know that they are looking
to outside companies to solve this problem. And, while there is some other
competition in this space, their technology is very different from the others.
Our biggest threat currently is time - as we know other companies will enter
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the
customer and the industry perspective?
Short-term rentals simply don’t
have the amenities guests need and crave. There’s no mini-bar, gift shop
or concierge. Guests will choose to stay at a hotel over a short-term
rental for these reasons.
By adding retail and services to
rentals everyone wins: guests, hosts, brands and delivery services.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
Our growing community of hosts are
our evangelists! We’ve got also got an incredible marketing funnel for new
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your
company and the size of the addressable market.
We built this for ourselves first -
we know the market and the need. It’s very funny, whenever we
talk about the “problem” everyone gets it, right away. I mean, who
hasn’t been in a vacation rental and wanted to buy something? Or wish they
had something you forgot, like toothpaste or a phone charger? Or just
desperately wished they had room service or a mid-week cleaning?
How and when will you make money?
As a marketplace we work on
a commission model. Hosts keep 93% of sales.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
Prior to The Host Co. I, Annie
Sloan, was a creative director with Facebook, and prior to that a creative director
at Twitter. I have worked in the Bay Area tech space for many
years and have helped build digital products for Google, Nike, Airbnb
and more. My co-founder, Mikel, after working as a show runner in television,
went on to found Times Eight Real Estate and a large Airbnb property management
company. We are both Airbnb hosts, so coming together to build a
host-focused technology felt intuitive.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
We are a female- and LGBTQ-founded
team committed to diverse hiring practices all the way to the executive
level. We feel that you cannot address diversity and inclusion once - it
is an ongoing commitment that must
be built into the fabric of the business.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Time management. Wishing we could
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why
are you going to be one of lucky ones?
We are the right technology at the
right time. Airbnb just did its best quarter ever, and tens of thousands of new
hosts are coming online every month. Our business and technology is built
for hosts, by hosts, so we know the right way to serve our customers.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
Hyper-growth! We’ll still be in the
foxhole of startup life, but with our eyes on expanding globally. And
we’ll have several more features implemented that help connect guests to
even more services. Can’t wait!
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private,
This information is private for
now, but we have a number of options open, which is fantastic!
PhocusWire's Startup Stage
Learn more about our profiling of new travel companies and how to apply.